Answers to foreign counsel queries

A Netherlands Antilles company (NV or BV) may have assets, both local and foreign. Not seldom such a company wants to sell all or a portion of its assets.

If foreign assets or a foreign buyer is involved, foreign counsel always asks questions about the laws of the Netherlands Antilles. Several of those questions will be dealt with here. Let’s assume that a Netherlands Antilles company wants to sell its shares in a Dutch BV.

The Netherlands Antilles NV or BV may sell some or all of its shares in the Dutch BV. It is customary that board minutes or resolutions are prepared to approve and authorize such transactions. The transfer of shares in a Dutch BV requires a Dutch notarial deed. The actual transfer of the title to the shares itself needs to be in accordance with Dutch law. However, it is not necessary that the sale and purchase agreement be governed by Netherlands Antilles or Dutch law. Nor is it necessary to settle any disputes in the Netherlands Antilles. The parties are free to choose another forum.

The transfer of registered shares in a Netherlands Antilles NV or BV only requires a private deed. Under the laws of the Netherlands Antilles, the transfer of registered shares in an NV or BV is effected either by serving a deed of transfer upon the company, or by written acknowledgement of the transfer by the company (which may only be done as an annotation on the share certificate, if share certificates have been issued).

The shareholders of a Netherlands Antilles company may voluntarily decide to dissolve a company which requires a shareholders’ resolution in accordance with the articles of association. The sale of all or a substantial portion of the company’s assets may preclude the company from continuing the business it has been conducting. There is no statutory provision in the Netherlands Antilles covering this specific event, but the view held for many years by legal commentators (like myself) is that it should be considered a matter that falls outside the realm of a management board’s powers and that it is an action that is equivalent to the dissolution of the company, which requires a shareholders’ resolution.

It is not required that a share purchase agreement or a share transfer deed be filed, recorded or enrolled with the Netherlands Antilles courts or any government authority of the Netherlands Antilles or that any Netherlands Antilles stamp, registration, documentary or similar tax is paid in respect of the entry into any such agreement. However prior to submitting such an agreement as evidence in a court of the Netherlands Antilles, it may be required that it first be stamped with a tax stamp of ANG 5.00 per page and registered with the Registrar of Documents of the Netherlands Antilles at ANG 10.00 per document.

Karel Frielink
Attorney (Lawyer) / Partner

2 January 2010

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